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Against the Odds: Planeswalker Wave Combo (Standard, Magic Arena)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 188 of Against the Odds. War of the Spark is here! As such, we're kicking off our exploration of the new Standard format with a special episode of Against the Odds! What's the foundation of War of the Spark? Planeswalkers, of course! Today, we're not just trying to win with planeswalkers but also to combo off with planeswalkers, with the help of Kamahl's Druidic Vow to dump a bunch of planeswalkers (and other legends) onto the battlefield all at once. The end result is a deck we're calling Planeswalker Wave Combo (in honor of Genesis Wave, the original Kamahl's Druidic Vow). What combination of planeswalkers and legends can give us a combo kill with Kamahl's Druidic Vow? What are the odds of winning with Planeswalker Wave Combo in War of the Spark Standard? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Planeswalker Wave Combo

The Deck

Planeswalker Wave Combo is basically a hybrid superfriends / combo deck. While we do occasionally win by playing a bunch of planeswalkers and outvaluing our opponent, our main goal is to assemble a specific combination of cards that will allow us to win the game right away, without attacking at all! Probably the easiest way to break down the deck is to walk through the combo, step by step.

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Step one to our combo is casting a big Kamahl's Druidic Vow. While we have cards like Growth Spiral and Grow from the Ashes as additional ramp, our best way to cast a massive Vow is Nissa, Who Shakes the World, which doubles up all of the mana produced by our Forests, making it easy to cast a massive Vow as early in the game. While turning our lands into creatures is risky, Nissa's +1 ability is helpful since it allows us to make even more mana by floating mana from a Forest, turning it into a hasty creature (and untapping it) with Nissa, Who Shakes the World, and then tapping it again, allowing a single Forest to make four mana!

When we finally resolve a Kamahl's Druidic Vow, we should at least generate a lot of value, getting a bunch of untapped lands on the battlefield and hopefully some extra planeswalkers and legends as well. However, we're really hoping to hit one planeswalker specifically, which will allow our combo to continue.

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One of the tricks that Genesis Wave decks use in Modern is to use Genesis Wave to find an Eternal Witness and a bunch of lands and then use Eternal Witness to get back the Genesis Wave from the graveyard and cast it again right away. Tamiyo, Collector of Tales is our Eternal Witness. If we can hit it with Kamahl's Druidic Vow, we can immediately 3 to get back Kamahl's Druidic Vow from the graveyard and—assuming we hit some lands with the first Vow—immediately cast Kamahl's Druidic Vow again and repeat the process. If we hit another copy of Tamiyo, Collector of Tales and more lands, we can run back the same plan, until we eventually get through all or most of our deck—and emptying our library is an important part of actually winning the game with our combo. Otherwise, Tamiyo, Collector of Tales protects us from discard and some removal (like Angrath's Fury and The Eldest Reborn, which would otherwise be good answers to our planeswalker) while also digging through our deck to find our Kamahl's Druidic Vow and other combo pieces.

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To actually win the game with our combo, we're looking for two more cards that we'll eventually hit with Kamahl's Druidic Vow: Jace, Wielder of Mysteries and God-Eternal Bontu. The idea here is pretty simple: Kamahl's Druidic Vow should get a ton of permanents (primarily lands) on the battlefield while also helping Tamiyo, Collector of Tales mill away our deck, so when we Vow into Jace, Wielder of Mysteries and God-Eternal Bontu, we should be able to win the game right away with Jace's Laboratory Maniac static ability. God-Eternal Bontu simply sacrifices all of our lands and whatever random permanents we don't need to draw 20 or more cards, which should be enough that we can draw our entire deck and win the game thanks to Jace, Wielder of Mysteries! It's also important to note that if our opponent wanted to respond to this combo (by killing Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, for example), they would need to do it before we choose what to sacrifice to God-Eternal Bontu. So if something goes wrong, we can choose to not sacrifice everything and try to win the game another way (with another Kamahl's Druidic Vow or by using Tamiyo, Collector of Tales to return Jace, Wielder of Mysteries from our graveyard to our hand to reassemble our combo kill).

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Ugin, the Ineffable and Liliana, Dreadhorde General don't really do anything for our combo, but they do give us additional hits with Kamahl's Druidic Vow since they are legendary planeswalkers. More importantly, they are essentially removal spells that we can get with Kamahl's Druidic Vow, with Liliana, Dreadhorde General taking down two creatures and Ugin, the Ineffable destroying any colored permanent. Both planeswalkers can also tick up to make 2/2s, which gives us some blockers to keep our other planeswalkers alive while we are getting our combo set up.

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Bioessence Hydra is just a one-of, but it gives us a backup plan for winning the game. While we can hit Bioessence Hydra with Kamahl's Druidic Vow since it isn't legendary, we can use Tamiyo, Collector of Tales to get it back from the graveyard after Kamahl's Druidic Vow mills it. Then, we end up with a huge (often 20/20 or 30/30) trampler to win the game in just one or two attacks.

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Cast Down, Ob Nixilis's Cruelty, and Vraska's Contempt give us some removal to deal with our opponent's creatures in the early game. Ob Nixilis's Cruelty and Vraska's Contempt both offer some additional upside, with Ob Nixilis's Cruelty exiling threats like Rekindling Phoenix, while Vraska's Contempt lets us exile planeswalkers along with pesky creatures.

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Last but not least is Search for Azcanta, which smooths out our draws in the early game and eventually flips into a land that can dig through our library to find our combo pieces. As an added bonus, Search for Azcanta is legendary, so we can put it on the battlefield with Kamahl's Druidic Vow.

The Matchups

In theory, with a solid draw, Planeswalker Wave Combo can compete with pretty much any of the top decks in Standard, although some matchups are easier than others. Fast aggro like Mono-Red can be a problem since it's hard to keep our planeswalkers on the battlefield to cast our Kamahl's Druidic Vow and it's possible we'll end up dead before we can do anything meaningful. On the other hand, control and slower midrange decks are a lot easier since our deck has a ton of power. And even discounting the combo, just sticking a planeswalker or two can generate enough value to pull ahead on cards and eventually close out the game. 

The Odds

All in all, we played five matches with Planeswalker Wave Combo and ended up going 4-1, good for an 80% match win percentage, making Planeswalker Wave Combo significantly above average for an Against the Odds deck. More importantly, we actually won quite a few games with the combo. While we did have some games where our opponent couldn't beat our planeswalkers, the plan of using Kamahl's Druidic Vow to find God-Eternal Bontu and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries worked surprisingly well! Apparently, all it took to make Kamahl's Druidic Vow playable in Standard was a set with 36 planeswalkers, a new Eternal Witness in Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, and a tutorable combo kill! If you want to play your entire deck in a single turn and win with Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, Planeswalker Wave Combo seems oddly competitive and super fun to play.

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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